Republican US Senate candidate Scott Brown criticized his Democratic rival, Martha Coakley, today for saying at a debate earlier this week that the terrorists were gone from Afghanistan.
Coakley's statement "reveals a deeply troubling lack of awareness and understanding of the threats facing our troops and on our national security," Brown said at a news conference at the Omni Parker House hotel in Boston, where he was joined by veterans.
Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, is vying with Coakley, the state's attorney general, in a race to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Edward M. Kennedy. The race has drawn national attention and caught fire in recent days. Independent Joseph L. Kennedy, who is not a member of the Kennedy political clan, is also running.
Coakley and Brown have disagreed on President Obama's recent decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, with Brown supporting and Coakley opposing it.
Coakley, touring a clothing factory in New Bedford, largely stuck to domestic issues, touting her plan for job creation and casting herself as the senator who would look out for the middle class. She again sought to link Brown to what she called the "failed economic policies" of the Bush-Cheney administration.
Asked about Brown's critique, Coakley defended her credentials. "I've spent 25 years keeping people safe, including right after 9/11," she said. "I cede my patriotism to no one."
President Obama also recorded a video message on Coakley's behalf and sent an email to supporters celebrating her work taking on "Wall Street schemes, insurance company abuses, and big polluters."
"She'll be your voice, and my ally. And she needs your help," he wrote.
Outside groups, meanwhile, continued to air new TV ads. The League of Conservation Voters took out a $350,000 buy on Coakley's behalf, with a spot designed to highlight Brown's "opposition to building a clean energy economy that creates new jobs and cuts our dangerous dependence on foreign oil."
Brown, a long-time member of the National Guard, also criticized Coakley yesterday for supporting civilian prosecution of some suspected terrorists, which would give the defendants more rights.
"We don't need lawyers at this time when Al Qaeda and others are trying to hurt our families and our kids. We need patriots," Brown said.